Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Magistrate Says Subpoena for Megachurch Records Was Improperly Issued

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that a federal magistrate judge in Minneapolis has recommended that the court refuse to enforce an IRS subpoena for financial documents issued to Living Word Christian Center. The church argued that the subpoena for financial records was not approved by "an appropriate high-level Treasury official" as required by Internal Revenue Code Section 7611. IRS sought information about loans, lease of an aircraft and compensation paid by the Brooklyn Park (MN) megachurch to its pastor, Mac Hammond. (See prior posting.) The magistrate judge agreed with the church that authorization by the Director of Exempt Organization Examinations did not meet the Internal Revenue Code's standard. In United States v. Living Word Christian Center, (D MN, Nov. 18, 2008), the magistrate judge suggested that after a 1998 IRS reorganization, the authority to "halt over-zealous examination of churches" should have been given to the Commissioner of Tax Exempt and Government Entities.